Tag Archives: Barbados

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I love myself. I do. More precisely, I’m growing in the love of myself – learning how to care for me and accepting the challenge of bettering myself. Of course I also tend to think I’m a pretty cool person. I can only imagine the joy when someone discovers how thoughtful, insightful, creative and strong I am. I’m finding lately though that some people are really good at hiding that joy. Either that or it actually isn’t there….not always a pretty thought.

I’m not talking about arrogant expectations here, rather it’s the cocoon of narrow-mindedness that Bajan life can be sometimes. In a metropole like New York, it’s easy to feel alone – one of millions, everybody on their way to somewhere, doing something more important than you are. Quickly though, you meet people. That world of millions feels so much smaller – there’s your French friend to go to wine tastings with, West Indian friends to fete with, your West Coast Buddhist friend to hike with. Then your Math genius friend to philosophise with, your Pakistani friend to intellectualise with and your balding friend who teaches you sign language. The eclectic abundance not only means that there’s someone out there who has a deep passion matching your curious interest, but that all those someones are expecting you to be YOU – to present a perspective melded through your many unique experiences.

The snap-back to Bajan reality is jarring sometimes. I get the innocent but potent jabs and jokes from those who care, looks and snide remarks from those who don’t. Even I am sometimes tempted to cower rather than take the challenge of self-assertion. I haven’t had to flex these muscles in a while, to make such an effort to be me, to source a healthy dose of affirmation.

Yet in the absence of a fuller acceptance, of the city’s unending stimulation of the mind and heart, away from the buttress of rich friendships, I realize that I have come full circle. This doesn’t feel that different from when I’d first left home. And I remember what I learnt then – that the power to shape my reality lies within.

So Barbados, I love you – but ‘no thanks’ to that box you want me in.

 

Cheese!

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By the Rivers of Babylon

HAPPY ERROL BARROW DAY!

Well people, we back wid a vengeance! (so to speak). We want to keep this unique line of communication and resource that is PledgeAllegiance available to you.

It’s a fine day to be Bajan (as is everyday) and a better day for a relaunch!

On to business…

Every year, Barbados, like other Caribbean islands and lesser-developed nations, exports what is a most valuable commodity. We export young people (and the young at heart) whose goal is to further their education. Brilliant minds!

Many of you reading this belong to this group (after all, the mission of this blog is to keep you connected in our own way) & that is great.

But now you “are” an emigrant, a foreigner, different, a minority, African-American or Black (as opposed to Caribbean or Barbadian). Some people find it hard to wrap their head around the fact that the distinct intonation that is your unique accent is actually real, whether you are of African descent or not. I say that you “are” these things because, let’s face it; the society you’ll be trying to navigate will label you this way. This is how they will initially perceive you. For some, they will hold tight to that perception just to be comfortable. You don’t have to accept these labels, but it can be shock being thrust into a storm of cultural relations.

And so, one inevitably struggles with how to maintain aspects of oneself that are culturally related; and constantly presented with situations that, aware of it or not, are in fact markers along one’s journey to a well-assimilated individual or an individual experiencing difficulty defining oneself in a new culture. However, assimilation (the process of absorbing the culture and mores of another population or group) does not have to be synonymous with discarding/forgetting one’s past.

How do you navigate what is now a new reality, so to speak?

I asked my Facebook friends to weigh in on the topic by sharing any advice that they would give to foreign students coming to the US (read: any other country).

  • Be prepared to work hard.

Jah will bring forth milk & honey, yes. But it will only happen as long as you are aware that contrary to popular belief, The Land of Milk & Honey only exists where one is willing to raise the cows and milk them yourself; and become a beekeeper and bear some stings. Nothing will be given to you. Chances are because you are “different” you may have to work a little harder than every one else (sometimes just based off the fact that no one understands a word you are saying because of your accent). It is definitely a case of action speaking louder than words. If you put in the work and stay prepared, when the opportunities arise, they will allllways be yours.

  • “Us Americans can be rude, sometimes closed-minded, but don’t take it  personal. Most of us are good people.” – from an American friend

It is within the nature of a human being to fear what he or she does not understand… or at least avoid it. Just be yourself and make some friends. It is important to develop a social network. A strong supportive one doesn’t have to be large, but should be effective in adding to your experience positively while you are far away from home.

I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention the phenomenon that occurs when you are the only person, on campus or in your new locale that is of your origin. People automatically come to see you as the Representative of your culture, nationality, country; and you automatically become the archetype of what a(n) >insert your nationality here< is, & how a whole nationality behaves. Certainly there is a level of ignorance that must exist to comfortably place that burden on an individual. But the fact of the matter is that it happens. I am not telling you not to live your life the way you see fit and are happy to do. I am saying that like it or not you become the unofficial ambassador of a country, so choose an aspect of your life that you will be glad to accept the responsibility and act accordingly; whether that be academics, professional relationships, social interactions, athletics, etc.

  • Try not to get mix up in Babylon system!

As a former Resident Assistant, I have seen the effects irresponsibility has on many a foreign/international student career. There are rules at university (who knew???) and if you get caught breaking them you will suffer the consequences. In some cases offenses, alone or when repeated enough times, will land you a suspension or expulsion. Not being in school when on a student visa is a no-no, and the fastest way to find yourself back home before you even get a chance to make Dean’s List.

Beyond the penalties your college imposes, if your offense breaks the law, you will end up out of school. Do not pass go; do not collect your degree. You will be deported.

So I guess my advice would be… Don’t. Get. Caught. Juuust Kidding! Actually a major problem for us coming from countries where for example the drinking age is 16/17, is dealing with the alcohol laws in countries like the US (21???  Who does that??). In MY opinion (and not necessarily the opinion of anyone else who is associated with this blog), don’t get caught. I am saying that based on the assumption that telling you not to drink will be a waste of (internet)breath and you will do it anyway. Seriously though, be smart about the choices you make. And if you are breaking a rule, don’t earn the award for the idiot who posts the pictures on facebook or jeers at the security camera. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

  • Kiss the right person’s ass.

Ok so maybe these words are a bit harsh, so to be politically correct, in the words of Ms. D. Lashley herself, “Make strategic alliances – get personal and friendly with the staff in the bursar’s office and student affairs.”

This is valuable advice for life. Period. Find some one you like to interact with in each office that isn’t a hard ass (He/she doesn’t need to be your bff) and forge a genuine relationship with that person. On days when the money dad wired is coming via a sloth and you can’t make a payment, or your flight got cancelled and you can’t move out by the deadline, or you absolutely need to get into that class because it is a requirement, having a friendship with a bursar, a Residence life hall director, or a registrar is extremely helpful.

And last but not least, and of the most importance it seems,

  • Stay connected to your culture

This was the most offered piece of advice. It is also, in my opinion, the most valuable. This is how you stay grounded. This is how you do not forget who you are, where you came from, where you’re going and what it takes to get there. This is how assimilation, though not always smooth, becomes less of a stressor.

–       Communicate often with relatives and friends from back home. Sometimes all you need is to hear a familiar voice.

–       Join a group or an organization that relates to your culture. It’s a great way to meet people who share similar beliefs and have a similar background. Yes, I know, the point of college is to diversify, expand, and appreciate differences, & build new relationships. If you don’t join a group or you are not on a campus with a high population of Caribbean students, making connections with other international students is a good idea.

You will miss home. If you don’t miss home in its entirety you will miss aspects of it. The food, the music, the people, the language, the customs… at a minimum you will learn to appreciate all the thing that came together for you to have the absolutely unique and fantastic experience of a Bajan/Caribbean upbringing.


I [RE]PLEDGE MY ALLEGIANCE . . . TO THIS BLOG!!1

So…by now I am sure you have noticed that we have been quite M.I.A. around here. Life happened… not a good reason, hell it’s not even an excuse. Actually I hang my head in shame of the fact that we call ourselves Bajans here and somehow did not cover the goings on of CropOver 2010. That is made worse by the fact that this year so many of our friends and colleagues played quite an active role in adding to the quality and depth of festivities throughout the season and great opportunities have been missed due to our slackin’ on the mackin.

And there was no lack of material either! What more to top off the season that true true BACHANNAL… and we ain’t talking bout de tent! Hehehe.

But I can’t indulge in that gossip. I will leave that to more reliable sources i.e. Allegiance staff actually ON the island. Wink wink.

Going through the material here I don’t mean to brag but, we are on to something great here! And it doesn’t hurt that it brings a unique Caribbean peace to my soul to read some of these articles and your comments

So… essentially, this is me renewing my allegiance to this blog… and to you the readers who supported and inspired.

WE AIN DONE WID WUNNA YET! LEH WE GO!!!!!!!!


As it is INDEPENDENCE…

It would be a great disservice to my bajan heritage not to say a few words on this most auspicious occasion!

43 and we gine strong! We have come a looong way from Bussa, 4 hip roofs, “dese days is funny nights”, and Redifusion (cause spelling it differently would just be wrong). I ain really come to write nuh whole lotta sentimental tings (not at this hour anyway) cause I want to get back to gourmandizing  muh conkies… But any how I was sittin down tinkin bout tings dat I would love to see happen in Bim… and some tings dat I would love to stop gine on too, some tings dat I hopin for and some tings dat does bother my soul. So in de hopes dat somebody actually reading dis ting, hear wha gine on:


  • Bajans should aim to maintain control of  bajan strongholds, for example, hypothetically speaking of course, it would look kinda bad for something like the Barbados central bank to be owned by Trinidad. Hence
  • Barbados should aim to counteract the the triple-ization process of the the republic of trinidad and tobago. no offense my trini bredren
  • Shontelle, Hal Linton, Livvi Franc and all my undiscovered bajan artistes are gonna knock this world off their musical behinds. They have already started by the way.
  • Significant improvements need to be made to the health system, particularly in the area of mental health. It is not enough that everybody has access to healthcare – there is always room for improvement.
  • I hope Bajans get serious about our health: We have a very high rate of obesity, especially among women. this means that we probably also have a high rate of obesity related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and an increased risk for getting these and other deadly diseases.
  • Bajans STILL need to stop being so malicious… and I mean malicious in both the bajan and the dictionary way.
  • We need to wise up and let go of the stigma we have attached as a culture to HIV/AIDS. Knowledge is power. Get tested. Protect yaself.
  • I hope that the Arts is never removed from the education system in Barbados. It plays an integral role in learning and cultivating well rounded individuals who don’t grow up to feel trapped inside the box of the droid.
  • That said I hope we never remove religion from schools either, because contrary to popular belief, it helps contribute to the forming of ^that well rounded individual^.
  • I can get eclipse biscuits at my local rite aid pharmacy cheaper than I can in Barbados . . .    (something is inherently wrong with that)
  • I want de ministry of education to rethink the system they have set up which mandates scholars etc to repay their debt to the government in one specific way. Diversifying options might curb the exportation of the talent and genius we cultivate.
  • Pinehill need to revisit wha it is dat went wrong wid de peanut punch!!! FIX IT!!!
  • And of most importance to me: Bajans need to be very concerned about the fact that Barbados is categorized as a water scarce country. We need to be more aware of the integral role that water plays in us being who we are as a people, a nation, a culture, and a marketable commodity/product. With ground water supplies at a significant low that means that finding water for us to drink, wash and cook with, and use for irrigation is becoming increasingly difficult for the BWA, so much so that there are talks of buliding a reverse osmosis plant to bottle water? It may just be me but for an economy so heavily based in the beauty of our environment we can be pretty clueless about what is going on around us because of us. (in depth blogpost coming soon). The Minstry for the Environment etc. needs to do a little bit more to educate the public.
  • Why the BWA website look so meager??? and given the above this is an absoloute atrocity!!!
  • Why nobody ain save the Swamp/Bird Sanctuary in Graeme Hall??? chuh man ya spoil um
  • With this swine flu epidemic wunna really need to take advantage and consume ridiculous amounts of bajan cherry and shots of bush tea bitters! (contact your local grandparent for more bushtea info)

Happy Independence my Beautiful people!!!


Quickie Update

Oh my goodness, back from summer in Bimshire and SOOOOOO much too talk about!!!! I don’t know how I’m gonna do it, but I HAVE to!!! Started grad school straight off the ‘plane, so life has been a bit hectic, but I need to maintain my commitment!

Have some Citizens of Earth to talk about…

Martha's Smile

Toni Thorne with the Martha’s Smile Initiative, and Wear The Issue – two fantastic

projects showing the potential of creative thought to transform social

awareness and reality.

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from emali

Tameisha Henry’s From Emali With Love is a MUST READ, as she bares her

inner wranglings as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya. Had a most insightful

chat with her that I must share.

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one hope one love

‘We Are One Hope, One Love’ – the theme of Janelle Skeete’s campaign on HIV/AIDS awareness,

another project of’Beauty With A Purpose’, co-sponsored by ‘Miss Barbados World’ and the

Barbados HIV/AIDS Commission.

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In anticipation of when I finally play my role in helping to get word out on these PHENOMENAL young women, I say a huge THANK YOU to each of them for sharing their time, their stories, their visions, their selves.


Conquering the Depths – Dive Barbados Blue!!

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Andre Miller of Dive Barbados Blue

 Photos by Jaryd Niles-Morris
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Hmm...not sure the mask will make it as summer's hottest accesory...

I’m almost depressed. I’ve been living at 30% all 23 years of my life! …mistakenly under the impression that while I’ve not reached the zenith of my existence, I was pretty on target. Turns out I was wrong. Dead wrong. Who doesn’t know that the earth is 70% water, 30% land? Yet the true weight of that fact was never known to me until today. Andre Miller, through Dive Barbados Blue, was a type of Savior for me, redeeming what would otherwise be a life dulled with ignorance had I not gone on my first scuba dive!!!!!

I don’t know that I’ve been away from home long enough for this trip to count as a vacation, but by some standards, going on the dive was “touristy”. Sure didn’t mind meeting my new diving comrades from Manchester and Israel, but I can’t deny it’s a pity more ‘locals’ don’t take advantage of the opportunity to explore the mind-blowing beauty in which this fantastic island is encrusted. I lived here full-time for 18 years and have been so deprived!!! Words will fail if I try to describe, so I’ll let the photos do the talking. [erm, stay tuned for when I finally post the full album, inclusive of underwater shots!]

...in the pool at the start of the lesson.

...in the pool at the start of the lesson.

What I must say, though, is how refreshing it is every time I encounter someone loving what they do everyday. Andre ‘Coral Transplantation Biologist-Entrepreneur-Master Scuba Diver-Awesome Instructor ‘ Miller is chock full of zest and charm – I enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks also to the receptionist, who helped calm my nerves at the start! Gratitude to a great team for a great day. See you guys when I come back for PADI certification!!!


Citizens of Earth: Leah Marville and the LOVE Campaign

Love away the stigma. * Beauty with a purpose.

If you’re afflicted with the deprivation of not knowing who Leah Marville is, get caught up right quick. Barbados has this way of churning out the killer combo of beauty and brains like whoa.  From Barbados Fashion week to South African couture,  there’s no choice but to add Leah’s name to the growing list of Barbadian  models taking the International Fashion world by storm – Lene Hall, Sara Collins, Tennille Stoute, Ramon Dodson, Richard Elms, I could go on. De sun ain hot in Bim fuh nuttin!

While Leah is following a now illustrious path, she is no doubt already leaving footprints all her own. Chasing the title of Miss Barbados World, her spearheading of The Love Campaign perfectly captures the pageant’s theme of ‘Beauty with a Purpose’. Focusing on providing support to children in families affected by HIV/Aids, the campaign promotes the destigmatizing of those battling the illness and its consequent myriad of social and economic challenges.

Mine was the pleasure recently of a chat with Leah. Her drive and heartfelt passion were undeniably evident.  The philanthropy of celebrities and entertainers often tends to be a secondary effort – at the beginning of one’s career, the focus is “me-me-me”, then after amassing a certain amount of fame and/or wealth comes the thought to “give back”. Of note is that it is while Leah’s career – though already outstanding – is yet young, that her contribution towards the plight of others is  equally outstanding. She spoke of a compelling desire to heed the cries, whether loud or silent, of those in need. It is indeed a costly calling, requiring the investment of much time and focus. In addition to modelling, Leah currently works full-time (and often more) with South Central Entertainment. Then add to the pot her academic pursuits (she holds a degree in Law from the University of the West Indies) and her participation in the Miss Barbados World contest. When and how could she possibly be pulling off such an amazing campaign? Though admittedly sometimes sleep-deprived, she credits her continued success to her passion and the support and assistance of others who have caught the vision.

It is clear that the phrase ‘status quo’ holds little meaning for Leah: she is determined to continue to push limits – her own, the nation’s and the world’s – in efforts to meet the needs around us that are so evident, yet many of us have learned to ignore. I feel inspired. Reassured. Encouraged. Challenged to be a productive Citizen of Earth.

Thank you, Leah!